Dost M Barrech
THE Middle East’s geostrategic location and its natural resources attract regional as well as global powers. Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Tony Blair, articulates the importance of the Middle East, saying that the Middle East is the largest producer of oil and global market would continue to depend on its oil. He further says that the proximity of the Middle East to Europe causes a great deal of consternation in Europe, the region is also critical for alliances between the US and Israel to have American consolidated foothold in the region. Though commentators are of the view that the Middle East’s importance is declining, after the emergence of economic giants in the Asia Pacific, the US is still pre-occupied with the Middle East. Zbigniew Brzezinski, a political scientist from America says that the American dominance in the Middle East is crucial for the US hegemony across the world. During the cold war period, the US expedited its ascendency in the Middle East by supporting Iran and Turkey for the purpose of countering the Soviet Union in the region. US, during past decades demonstrated its involvement in the Middle East’s politics, economic affairs and carried out covert and overt operations. Intriguingly, the US in 1944, signed Anglo-American Petroleum Agreement with Great Britain to divide Middle East’s oil between them.
A question that needs to be answered is why the Middle East is so vital for the US? Firstly, the US wants to control the flow of oil. Mark Ruffalo says that “whoever controls your energy controls your destiny”. The US certainly maintains its hegemony in the Middle East to have a control over natural resources of the region. Having said that, China, being dependent on natural resources of the Middle East, likely to confront with America in future as for as the flow of oil from the Middle East is concerned. Secondly, America, a staunch supporter of Israel, desires to see a dominant Israel in the region. The American alliance with Israel attributes to hamper the emergence of regional dominant powers. The Bush Doctrine toppled the regime of Saddam Husain and spreading of democracy in the Middle East was a metaphor in perpetuating the American hegemony in the region. Condoleezza Rica, the National Security Advisor of Bush Administration endorsed that spreading of democracy in the Middle East resulted in expanding the American hegemony across the world. The Bush Doctrine’s main objectives were to prevent Iraq as a strong country and to stop the influence of Al-Qaeda. Iraq by Bush was perceived to be an inevitable threat to the American security.
The Obama Doctrine, on the other hand, saw the continuity of the Bush Doctrine in the Middle East, retaining status quo, preventing the emergence of regional powers. Obama like his predecessor tried to prevent any State that could pave the way for destabilisation in the American balance of power. The American National Security Strategy Archives 2015 explained that the US forces would continue to defend their country by conducting counter-terrorism operations, further said if deterrence failed, the US forces would launch power globally so that they could eliminate aggression. Obama, on one hand, said that the US had to apologize for showing aggression in the Middle East on the other; he espoused the Bush Doctrine by toppling Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. Bush and Obama committed the worst mistake in overthrowing regimes of Saddam Hussain and Muammar Gaddafi. Meanwhile, a hawkish Donald Trump has already intimidated the world, dismantling Iran nuclear deal and bolstering cordial ties with Israel are the sign of cementing American position in the region. Trump in prevailing circumstances of the Middle East desires to eliminate Islamic State (IS). Interestingly, the convergence of interest between America and Iran against IS is a monolithic opportunity for Trump administration to nib the differences in the bud with Iran, as Iran is in front page against fighting IS. It is same Iran, supported by America to counter the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
In contrast, Michel Chossudovsky in his book “The Globalisation of War” says that the US is the orchestrator of IS. Creation of IS would expand the war across the world and the war would be globalised. It can be assumed the creation of IS in the Middle East in view of Chossudovsky is the next episode of unproved WMDs of Saddam Hussain. The same view was expressed by former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who said that the IS was being supported by America in Afghanistan and even facilitated with choppers. He further said the existence of IS in Afghanistan was the next episode of 9/11. The war across the world is in the interest of America, the US the world’s largest supplier of weapons needs the market to sell its weapons. It is estimated that world’s 45 percent sophisticated weapons are built in America. Trump’s $ 110 billion, history’s biggest arms deal with Saudi Arabia, is a solid proof for aforementioned statement. Trump, being a businessman and belligerent President, will certainly follow the trajectory of his predecessors to find new markets to sell the weapons. It is naïve to expect peace in the Middle East in this so-called anarchic system of the world.
— The writer works as Research Assistant at Institute of Strategic Studies, a think-tank based in Islamabad.
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Dost M Barrech